Cabanas - Algarve - Portugal
Welcome to Cabanas Uncovered! Your Cabanas holiday guide!
Welcome to Cabanas Uncovered! Your guide to holidays in Cabanas in eastern Algarve, Portugal. Tourist information about Cabanas or 'Cabanas de Tavira', its island beach, accommodation, restaurants, bars, shops, things to do and in fact, all things Cabanas Uncovered!
Cabanas is situated some 7km east of Tavira, at the beginning of the lagoons of the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve. Cabanas derived it's name from the huts (cabanas) that were erected during the early 18th century by the tuna fishermen to store their fishing gear in, they then eventually built houses for themselves as well and the fishing village of 'Cabanas de Tavira' was born.
Fishing still plays a major role in the economy of Cabanas but for the last 30 years tourism has also played an ever increasing role. What was, until a few years ago, a small, sleepy village with a handful of cafés, is now a very popular tourist resort. As with any popular area, new apartments and houses are springing up around Cabanas, but, certainly at the moment, it hasn't detracted from the character of the town.
Cabanas is a delightfully 'chilling' place where any sense of 'urgency' simply disappears! The view across the calm, crystal clear waters of the lagoon to the beach, with brightly coloured fishing boats along the waters edge, really is picturesque.
The Avenida Ria Formosa runs the length of the lagoon and since the waterfront facelift in 2010 there are parking bays along the front and most of it is one way which has eased the traffic problem considerably! With freshly cobbled roads and pavements there is safely room for the numerous cafes and restaurants to have tables outside and it is very picturesque. A boarded walkway runs the entire length of the Avenida (starting at the fishing port at the western end) and has seats and sunshades at intervals - great for taking in the view and listening to nothing but the water lapping around the boats!
At the eastern end there is a shady area, frequented by campervans and just beyond.... green fields and trees and a 17th century fort! It's surprising what you find when you explore! The fort, São João da Barra , was originally built in 1656 by Conde Val de Reis. It has since been restored and is now privately owned.
The beach of Ilha de Cabanas is just a short boat trip across the waters of the lagoon..in fact it is possible to swim across! Luckily there are also several water taxis along the front running frequent crossings to the ilha! The water taxis not only go to the beach but also further afield to Tavira, Ilha de Tavira and Santa Luzia and run day and night (although there is a supplementary charge between 9pm and 8am).
Cabanas has all the facilities you need on holiday. There are a couple of banks, a market and several small shops for your grocery items. A "papelaria" on the front, opposite the water taxis to the beach, has bikes for hire and is an agency for excursions as well as car rental (if you are able to tear yourself away!).
To the west of Cabanas lies the 'Octopus Capital' of the Algarve - Santa Luzia! In latter years the fishermen of the village turned their talents wholeheartedly to catching octopus and to this end lower clay pots to the sea bed in the shallower waters to lure the octopus in. Octopus is considered quite a delicacy although it can be an acquired taste!
If you can summon up the energy to leave Cabanas for an hour or two to explore a little further, then a visit to Tavira is a must. It is probably the most attractive town in the Algarve and despite the increasing numbers of tourists who visit is still very much a Portuguese town. The riverside near the market building, with it's outside cafés and garden area, is always a good place to stop awhile and watch the world go by and if churches are of interest to you, then be prepared to spend some time as there more than a dozen in Tavira!
Take a walk up to the castle (originally Moorish in origin but rebuilt during the 13th century) and you can get a really good view across the town and the 'tesouro' (pyramid shaped) roof tops. The beach of Ilha de Tavira is just a short boat trip away from the town where you feel as if you have arrived at your very own desert island as the white sands stretch into the distance.
This eastern end of the Algarve is also easy to explore by train as the railway line runs virtually along the coast from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António and with a station at Conceição (about 1km from the centre of Cabanas) you can visit Tavira, Luz, Fuseta, Olhão and Faro to the west and Cacela, Monte Gordo and Vila Real de Santo António to the east. It's certainly a cheap way to travel and as the saying goes 'let the train take the strain'! The train line runs all the way to Lagos at the western end, but there is a about a thirty to forty minute wait at Faro.
With the Ria Formosa on the 'door step' it is certainly worth taking a boat trip around the marshes and lagoons that make up the nature reserve and visit some of the ilhas along the seaward edge. If, for any reason, you don't like boats you can still cross to one of the sandspit ilhas and get a view of the Ria Formosa by getting a tourist train from Pedras d'el Rei, just west of Santa Luzia, that goes across the marshes of the Ria Formosa to Praia do Barril, a beach in the middle of the Ilha de Tavira.